Race, Stress, Achievement


How the Stress of Racism Affects Learning by Melinda D. Anderson
The Atlantic, October 11, 2016

As the achievement gap between whites and blacks and Latinos persists, researchers continue to probe for explanations and possible solutions. The adverse relationship between stress and academic achievement is well established, and this article describes how perceived racial discrimination and stereotype threat are increasingly understood to be sources of stress. The stress hormones produced when students experience discrimination or stereotype threat, or have to negotiate “racial indignities,” adversely affect their concentration, motivation, sleep, and ultimately, learning. One way to mitigate the effects of racial discrimination is for students themselves to participate in activities that work towards its elimination. Educators must also seek to foster environments that promote positive identities for all of their students, to allow all students to feel included and accepted, and to teach effective ways to manage stress. Ultimately, as students and their teachers work toward social justice on a large scale, the goals are to eliminate racial discrimination and improve race relations. Until those goals can be achieved, however, this article suggests ways that students and educators can address pertinent issues at the school level to improve students’ performance.

Submitted By: Shelby S. Hammer, River Oaks Baptist School, Houston, TX

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